Is free shipping a good fit for your business?

June 24, 2013 - Tags: Products E-business Sales

If you are a business owner whose products require shipping, whether or not to charge a fee can be a tricky decision. Although free shipping is a consumers' dream, it can have financial drawbacks for you.

Before diving in, you may want to consider your options. What would be the best fit for your business?

  • Look at using promotional offers other than free shipping, as they can be just as effective.
  • Evaluate how heavily you rely on free shipping as a selling point. Many businesses offer free shipping; what sets your business apart?
  • How will you manage return shipping? Will your package come with a return shipping label or will the customer be charged for return shipping?
  • Research whether your small business can afford free shipping, as it can be costly. You have to do what's best for your business; free shipping may set you back more than move you forward financially.

If you decide that free shipping could benefit your business, you may want to consider incorporating these strategies:

  • Offer a minimum purchase amount. This promotes sales while still allowing your business to make a profit.
  • Shop around to see which shipping company has the best offers. Some companies offer promotions and discount packages for small businesses.
  • Remind customers about what they're saving on shipping. Showing how much they would have spent without free shipping serves as validation during the buying process.
  • The more you ship, the more discounts may be available to you — be sure to inquire about volume discounts.

Include easy-to-find shipping information and policies on your website and packaging — this will prevent confusion when customers are planning to buy or return items. In order to really make an impression, it may be a good idea to provide shipment tracking numbers, so customers know where their package is. One-day delivery can also be a good way to increase customer satisfaction. These strategies can be helpful in promoting repeat sales.

Your small business is unique; you want it to grow and flourish over time. Before making any decisions, you may want to determine if offering free shipping will increase your profitability. For more help, check out our section on growing.

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